11-year-old girl dies of bird flu in Cambodia; had high fever, cough and sore throat

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Young girl from Cambodia’s Prey Veng province has died of H5N1 virus bird flu infection on Wednesday, media reports quoting health minister, Mam Bunheng have said. The minister has said it is the first known human infection with the H5N1 strain since 2014.
The 11 year old girl was sick with a high fever and cough on 16 February, The Guardian has reported citing an official statement. Her condition deteriorated on Wednesday and she was transferred to the national children’s hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment where she succumbed to the illness.

As per the US CDC, avian influenza or the bird flu infection in humans is a rare case however human infections can ” happen when virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled. This can happen when a virus is in the air (in droplets or possibly dust) and a person breathes it in, or possibly when a person touches something that has virus on it then touches their mouth, eyes or nose.”
The common signs of the infection are eye redness or conjunctivitis, high fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

As per the reports, the girl’s father and 11 others had also tested positive for H5N1.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned about the spread of H5N1 virus to mammals, but had said the risk to humans was low. Humans are least susceptible to H5N1 virus as the human cells do not have the receptors in the upper respiratory tracts that facilitate the entry of the virus into the body.

Since 2021, eight cases of H5N1 affecting humans have been recorded by the WHO from China, India, Spain, the UK and the US.

As of now 15 million birds have died from the viral infection and almost 193 million have been culled.

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  1. What is bird flu?
    Bird flu is the the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses
  2. Can humans get infected with bird flu?
    Humans getting infected with bird flu is rare. But unprotected contact with infected birds increases the risk of getting the infection.
  3. What are the symptoms of bird flu?
    Conjunctivitis or redness of the eyes, severe respiratory illness, fever, headache, cough and sore throat are the common signs of bird flu.

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